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Links With Your Coffee - Sunday

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"There is no cure for birth or death save to enjoy the interval."—George Santayana

  • White House Accidentally E-Mails to Reporters Story That Maliki Supports Obama Iraq Withdrawal Plan
    The White House this afternoon accidentally sent to its extensive distribution list a Reuters story headlined "Iraqi PM backs Obama troop exit plan -magazine."

The story relayed how Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told the German magazine Der Spiegel that "he supported prospective U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's proposal that U.S. troops should leave Iraq within 16 months … ‘U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes,'" the prime minister said.

    (tip to Erick)

  • Richard Dawkins slaps creationists into the primordial soup - Times Online (tip to inwit)
    In these barren, thoughtless times, Dawkins gives people something substantial to chew on. His audience is surprisingly grateful, and also relieved to see someone slapping creationists about and tossing them into the primordial soup, as well as explaining atheism positively. Before I went to interview him about his new three-part television series, Dawkins on Darwin, various over-excited friends offered to accompany me and texted questions for me to ask him; signed copies were requested of The God Delusion, which one Iranian exile said he had recently found himself reading as his plane landed – everyone else was clutching the Koran.
    Listen to Podcast


  • E&S Article Alternative Energy for a Sustainable FutureThe current issue (Vol. 71, No. 2) of Caltech's Engineering & Science magazine is a special issue on "Alternative Energy for a Sustainable Future". Pdf files of the articles are


    (tip to inwit)


 

Comments

Re: the Caltech energy guys

As much as I hate to admit it as a chemist, if I were betting on new technologies, I wouldn't bet on either Harry Gray's biological/photochemical energy conversion, or on Nate Lewis's photoelectric cells (though the latter may work out in the longer term). Mechanical/aeronautical engineering is the field to be in for primary energy generation - wind power is the cheapest, cleanest renewable source of energy. And its roughly cost competitive now. The role of chemistry will be in electrical to chemical energy conversion - especially important for taking full advantage of an energy generating system that yields sporadic energy production like wind or solar.

Tim - Did you have any comment re: the nuclear power post Norm made a couple of days ago?

Re: Sending around the article. Nice to finally get some truth out of this White House.

Did you have any comment re: the nuclear power post Norm made a couple of days ago?

I would agree with Obama only to the extent that we should examine other countries' implementation of nuclear power - France is supposed to be the poster boy. Standardization of reactor design (they settled on a couple) helps a lot to control costs, but it still ain't cheap. The big issue is nuclear waste - have they really handled it - or have they just politically finessed it? I really don't know much about nuclear waste storage (disposal is an appropriate label) in France and whether their vitrification processes are really long-term (like 100,000 years) viable.

On balance, I think renewables are the way to go.

...disposal is not an...

I'd be interested in hearing Dawkins address mythology. Hammering fundies of every stripe is good fun, and a good service in our day, when they are resurgent and powerful. But let's face it: for anyone with an ounce of rational ability, it's as interesting as shooting fish in a barrel after a while. The more interesting question, in my opinion, is what to make of the human capacity for creating story, and why some of those mythic stories become religious. I wonder what Dawkins makes of Joseph Campbell. Neither Campbell nor the word "myth" appear in the Index or Bibliography of God Delusion. I wonder if Dawkins thinks there are any myths that shape our culture and beliefs now. . .

"There is no cure for birth or death save to enjoy the interval."—George Santayana

revised for 2008:" there is no cure for birth or death save to enjoy teh internetz". :)

i agree with phidippedes about shooting fish in a barrel, and would love to see dawkins apply his prodigious brain to his question, but i dont think it's going to happen. i think his position would be "yes, i'm aware that people have a universal tendancy to make shit up. it may even have an explanation in evolution. but i'm not concerned with the stories themselves. i'm more concerned with facts than "truth", or the perception of truth by the masses."

oh, well, fair enough. i guess we can't expect him to jump into a sewer for our amusement, no matter how intimately sewers may be connected to human history and nature.

still, i'd love to see him do it, and surface covered with the filth of humanity. or maybe he'd figure out showers are also connected to the sewer system.

gee, i wonder how far you can push an analogy before it blows up in your face. let's see...

"There is no cure for birth or death save to enjoy the interval."—George Santayana

Isn't death the cure for birth? And depending on your definition of death then the transverse statement is also true.

"...death the cure for birth?"

Ahh, not unless "cure" has assumed a particularly bizarre definition recently. It's the end of a process marked, if not begun, by birth.

Jonathan, if you are saying that myths are simply a matter of shit we made up, I'd have to say that's a parsimonious view of the subject. I'd say, rather, that mythology is a matter of trying to understand what is yet beyond our grasp, trying to see patterns, trying to make sense, define laws of the universe. It's more like poetry than science, but isn't completely foreign to science: if we are, in fact, a myth-making species, that makes it worth observing and understanding.

Ahh, not unless "cure" has assumed a particularly bizarre definition recently. It's the end of a process marked, if not begun, by birth.

The term "cure" has assumed such a definition or "birth" has in the original quote.

Either birth is a problem or cure is more then the cessation of a negative situation.

Either birth is a problem or cure is more then the cessation of a negative situation.

Huh! Touché!

damn Norm, sometimes I think we're on some sort of psychic channel. I just copied out a longish quote from Reason and Religion last night. GS was a guy I always vote most likely to roll over in his grave, as he's remembered for a single quote that is so often butchered in typical Bush fashion ("those, um, who condemn history, are, uh, gonna repeat it...somethin' like that...")

If you don't know the original, um, forget it.

Jonathan, if you are saying that myths are simply a matter of shit we made up

Jonathan was simply being sarcastic in his own inimitable way.

Jonathan was simply being sarcastic in his own inimitable way.

i can't believe you both got it wrong. is my writing really that unclear? i was saying what i think dawkins position would be. my exact words were "i think his position would be..." is that so hard to understand?

Yes, jonathan, unclear.

Explain yourself damnit. Are myths "made up shit"? Yes or no?

'his' position would be, eh? What a cop out. What is your position?

And here I thought that you were setting forth a nuanced position... or was it that i thought that you were avoiding the questionn and I attempted to give you some cover..?

Or should I escape for cover into the garden and forget all of this shit? yes, yes, that's it..

my nuanced position was that dawkins wouldn't ever deal with phidippides perfectly lovely question (imo) because his position would be...etc. not so nuanced, actually. go off your meds, JoAnn? geez.

ok, if your really that curious about MY position on myths (which, i emphasize, was not the subject of my post) the answer to your question "do i think myths are "made up shit",

a. myths, by definition, are made up shit. that's what "myth" means, at it's most grubby level, for those of you (glares at JoAnn:)) who can only think in those terms. phidippide's question ,although using the word "myths", was broader and more nuanced, however, involving how humankinds (biologically evolved) mythmaking propensities just might have led those humans, in some cases at least, to important truths via shortcut, necessary for evolutionary survival, which science and empirical knowledge are even now only beginning to touch the edges of. ahem. so, for those who understand this,

b. not exactly.

:)

and for anyone who wants examples,

just forget it.

Yeah, just forget it.

Most of the people who I know tell me that between Obama and McCain there is not much difference... In fact, the people who tell me this are those who I most respect. Recently, someone told me, "Politics are dead and the media have taken over with meaningless words and sensational lifelessness",.... And on that note, I no longer give a shit. My personal life is good, so why bother to worry about the rest of it? A waste of time, i guess... I have decidede that I spend way too much time giving a shit, when all I have to do is just say, "they're both the same".. that's easier... Why care so much when it's all a big waste of time anyway?

Yeah, I'll go of "my meds".. and the way to do that is to not give a shit. I hereby no longer give a shit. This a postion which makes life a lot easier.

I hereby no longer give a shit. This a postion which makes life a lot easier.

Makes it hard to come up with material for comments when you take that position doesn't it? Nihilist blogs are so rare.

i agree with phidippedes about shooting fish in a barrel, and would love to see dawkins apply his prodigious brain to his question

I love the fish in a barrel metaphor because when shooting into water most bullets disintegrate. But the concussion from the blast is generally enough to kill a fish.

So if you actually shot fish in a barrel you would kill them but not really shoot them.

Makes it hard to come up with material for comments when you take that position doesn't it? Nihilist blogs are so rare.

Right. Less material. Life is easy... les material...

JoAnn, i truly hope you are at peace with not giving a shit, and that you're personal life is just what you want it to be and that you're not, as it sometimes appears, overly burdened with your cassandra syndrome to the point of actual unhappiness. and if i have added to such potential unhappiness by being unclear, or clearly stupid or aggressively,pointlessly cynical, i hope you will forgive me.

that's it.

No forgiveness needed Jonathan. As for my personal life, I'm spoiled rotten. I just don't give a shit about politics anymore. It's a complete waste of time. I give up.

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